Betsy Rogers, named Teacher of the Year in 2003, writes in her Education Week blog about her decision to teach at a low-performing school in Alabama, where expectations are low.

I was struck by the post on a kindergarten classroom infested by snakes, which Rogers discovered two years ago when visiting the school. It turned out snakes had been a problem for years; nobody had felt compelled to take action. Rogers and another visiting teacher got the custodian, who had a snake catcher as a tool, to clear the room; 16 non-poisonous snakes were caught.

Someone said to me β€œ I guess it took the Teacher of the Year to do something about the snakes.” This annoyed me because this should have been taken care of two years earlier for the sake of the children not because I was there. District maintenance workers came that day and repaired the hole in the wall where the snakes were entering the room. An exterminator was called to come set off a snake balm and children were moved to the music room. The children stayed in the music room for three weeks with no chairs and tables. I am astonished when people wonder why the children in this school are not achieving at the expected level.

When Rogers returned as a teacher, she was assigned to the “snake room,” which is now snake-free.

About Joanne


  1. BadaBing says:

    What is a snake “balm?” Were the snakes exterminated or simply removed? I’d like to believe they were removed and placed in suitable habitat since they were probably gray rat snakes, which are totally harmless and environmentally beneficial. There’s no reason to execute them. Okay, I’m a snake lover. I keep and breed them and bring them to class to try to debunk the myth that all snakes are evil, poisonous aggressors. I would love to have been taught in a snake room and probably would have taken a couple home with me. But that’s just moi.

  2. BadaBing says:

    Oh, and one more thing. I’ve had a lot worse than snakes enter my classroom.

  3. I like to think they lulled the snakes with a balm rather than blowing them up with a “bomb.”

  4. Steve LaBonne says:

    Shh, don’t tell Kimberly they got rid of the snakes- she’ll be very upset. πŸ˜‰

  5. rouxdsla says:

    These maintenance problems don’t just occur in poor schools.

    A few years ago the school board was proposing a new tax to fix maintenance problems. The board superintendant was on TV showing a leaking roof in the band room at a school my sister had attendended in late ’70’s. She told me it was like that back then and this is in an area where median annual income is in excess of $100K.

    If you fix the problems then you can’t beg for more money to fix the problems. Even though they had the money, they didn’t have the inclination to fix the problems.

    BTW-The people weren’t fooled and the tax failed.

  6. Caffeinated Curmudgeon says:

    I like to think they lulled the snakes with a balm rather than blowing them up with a “bomb.”

    Then do NOT, under any circumstances, google for “snake balm”!!!1!